Since April there have been a series of demonstrations and arrests at the University in Marrakech. They came to a climax around the 17th May when police stormed the campus. Two Sahrawi and one Moroccan were thrown out of the window of their student homes. A large number of Sahrawi students have been arrested.
The Sahrawi student demonstrations first began in April as a response to attacks from armed Moroccan gangs.
A new round of demonstrations began in mid-May; this time initiated by disgruntled Moroccans and directed toward the campus management.
19 Moroccan students had been admitted to hospital with acute food poisoning after having eaten tainted food at the student cafeteria.
Moroccan and Sahrawi students were unified in the wake of this incident and further demonstrations took place on 17th May at the University’s administration building, situated a few kilometres from the University, aimed at the University’s leadership.
Sahrawi students demanded an end to discrimination at the University and the right to self-determination.
The march was stopped by Moroccan police. Thereafter the students returned to the campus where they continued their demonstrations. Armed police surrounded the campus area, threw in tear gas and shot into the air. In the course of the evening police forced their way into the campus grounds.
Large areas of the campus grounds were stormed by the police. It was reported that two or three students had been thrown out of the windows of fourth floor rooms, where they lived, by the police. Elwali Alkadimi (on the right) broke his back. See more photographs of Elwali and another student below.
Rumours have circulated in the Moroccan press that one Moroccan student has died after having been thrown out of a window on the campus.
The Support Committee has not been able to confirm or refute the rumours. The latest report emanating from Marrakech tends to support that no one in fact died.
A large number of Moroccan and Sahrawi students were arrested during the storming of the campus by police. They were then taken to a police station in the centre of Marrakech and a number of them beaten during their interrogation. One report that the Support Committee has received from Marrakech explains the following:
(‘Nahj Democratic’ refers to a left-wing group of Moroccan students that received special attention during the episode):
"Some Sahrawi students testify that during the torture sessions they saw one of the Nahj Democratic students, whose name is 'Younes'. They did not recognise him at first due to his bloody and swollen face. During the torture sessions he was given electrical shock treatment six times.
Other Sahrawi students living in the ‘Elwahda 4’ area testify that the police stormed into the apartments where they live and dragged out one of their neighbours, who is a member of Najh Democratic. He could not stand on his feet and his face was swollen; he looked very ill indeed.
The police charged into his room, damaged furniture and confiscated his files and computer.
The campus has now been turned into a military barracks and students have been forced to leave. The army is in control of the area, enabling them to exercise control of students at the University".
Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
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